act21: a virtual conference success

act21, the CIA annual conference, wrapped up on June 18 following a four-day program filled with eventful opportunities to engage, learn, and exchange.

With leveraging change as our guiding theme, attendees enjoyed content focused on the importance of both personal and professional growth.

For the former, this included discussions on what it truly means to be a manager and leader, why diversity in the workplace is a boon for productivity and growth, and an energetic opening plenary with Behavioural Change Expert Lisa Bélanger. The address, which set an enthusiastic tone for the week, explored the science of avoiding distraction and how a simple three-step approach of pausing to connect with oneself, with nature, and with others is the key to enhancing overall performance.

On a technical front, over 40 sessions provided an updated forecast of some of today’s fastest-moving trends, such as impacts of COVID-19, digital transformations in the industry, IFRS 17, and more.

In Session 18: Covid-19: Setting the stage for a basic income plan, attendees listened in as our expert panel discussed ideas around setting a minimum income plan and the causes and conditions of poverty among Canadians, especially working-age adults. Additional takeaways included estimations around the annual costs of a national plan (approx. $100 billion based on the Ontario pilot) and how widely they may vary depending on provisions. The related CIA research report will be published later this year.

In Session 40: COVID actuarial challenges, speakers explored multiple medical and actuarial perspectives including the development of a viable travel insurance product adapted for COVID-19, with little data. The findings showed actual claim experience was very close to pricing assumptions, achieving target margins, and delivering value to customers.

The conference also heavily featured the impact of digitization on the insurance world. Session 2: Digital transformation of the industry looked at how technology can be leveraged to improve interactions between insurers and their customers. In Session 44: Wearable technology, the panelists discussed how new technology can be integrated into wellness programs which have the potential to improve mortality experience.

“The most important skill – learning to learn quickly. You might find yourself automated out of a job if you can’t keep learning. It’s data science today. But it won’t stop there. You’re one step ahead because you’re participating in this event today.”

Amir Feizpour

A well-attended plenary session, Data science, an opportunity and a challenge, also featured an in-depth discussion about the role of actuaries and their skills as automation and predictive analytics tools become more widespread.

“The most important skill – learning to learn quickly. You might find yourself automated out of a job if you can’t keep learning. It’s data science today. But it won’t stop there. You’re one step ahead because you’re participating in this event today,” said Amir Feizpour one of the speakers on the expert panel.

Following the thread of social and economic improvement, Mark Carney, author of Values: Building a Better World for All, took to the stage for a virtual sit-down with CIA President Michel St-Germain. This, the final plenary, traversed topics like climate change, low interest rates, and the future, and was a unique opportunity to glean the insight of one of Canada’s foremost economists.  

“Actuaries are a highly skilled but humble group, and I would encourage you to deploy your ability to see versions of the future to inform action today, which in the end is how you manifest caring for the economy,” said Carney in a final word to act21 attendees.

The conference closed with the annual presidential changeover – welcoming Jacqueline Friedland as the CIA’s new President, effective July 1, and thanking Michel St-Germain for his steadfast leadership during an unpredictable and, at times, challenge-filled year.

Did you have a favourite session or activity? Tell us in the comments below!

Once again, we thank all our speakers, sponsors, keynotes, and attendees for helping us make act21 a virtual success. See you all next year!


act21 registrants can access conference recordings until August 31, 2021, on the virtual event platform.  CIA members will receive access in November on the CIA website.

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